Children at a North Tyneside primary school are set to get their green fingers dirty thanks to a new grant from a regional employer.
Over the last eight years, a piece of wasteland in the grounds of Westmoor Primary School in Killingworth has gradually been turned into a woodland garden by the children, their teachers and a team of parent volunteers.
The garden is used for a range of environment and conservation-themed educational activities, with the children leading the work under adult supervision, and plans are now being developed to create a number of small allotments on a new part of the site.
To support this work, The Banks Group has now made a £600 donation to the Friends of Westmoor Primary School, which will be used to buy a polytunnel in which seeds can be planted and grown, as well as a new welly rack and some larger pairs of wellies for the older children.
Children at every stage of the school, from its nursery right through to Year Six, are involved in the garden project. Fundraising work is carried out throughout the year by the Friends of Westmoor Primary School to help meet the costs of running it, and it is hoped that the children will eventually be able to sell the produce they grow to raise more money for it themselves.
Jo Sharp, chair of the Friends group, says: “The garden is absolutely central to school life at Westmoor, and classes are out there pretty much every day, either working on different parts of the garden or carrying out classroom tasks in this brilliant outdoor environment.
“As well as carrying out all kinds of projects in the garden relating to conservation and the environment, the children have also used it for numeracy work and creative activities, and it really helps them build their teamworking skills, especially when they can see the results of what they’ve done right in front of them.
“We’ve got lots of plans for doing even more with the garden, especially around creating allotments in which the children can plant seeds, watch their plants grow and eventually sell the produce that results.
“There’s always more that we’d like to do in the garden, and a project like this could pretty much consume all the money you could find for it, so getting this generous support from the Banks Group is extremely welcome.”
Councillor Linda Darke, local Labour Councillor for Killingworth, in which Westmoor Primary School is located, says: “The woodland garden at Westmoor Primary School is a brilliant facility for the children. The Friends of Westmoor Primary School, the staff of the school, and not least the children, have worked really hard over a number of years to make it a wonderful space to learn in, play in or just relax in.
“A number of organisations have given grants to help establish and grow the garden over the years, and we are very grateful to the Banks Group Community Fund for this latest grant which has enabled the purchase of a polytunnel, amongst other things, so the children can grow plants from seeds.”
Councillor Gary Bell, local Labour Councillor for Killingworth, and Chairman of North Tyneside Council, says: “The garden at Westmoor Primary School is wonderful, and it’s a real tribute to the Friends of Westmoor Primary School, the staff of the school and the pupils. The generous grant from the Banks Group Community Fund means it will now be even better.”
Chris Kelsey, communications manager at the Banks Group, adds: “This is a terrific project that brings every part of the school community together, and you can see how much pride the children take in everything they do in the garden, so we’re very pleased to be able to support the work that they’re doing.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.